News from the Field Studies CentreNick Van Breda
This week marks the final four-week Field Studies Programme (FSP) at the Woollamia Campus. It has been a great experience for the boys in attendance, who for much of the second half of the year, looked like they would miss the opportunity. Our School has a long tradition of designing and delivering challenging and engaging outdoor education programmes. The Field Studies Centre itself has evolved as an example of innovative design and functional architecture. It seems that everyone who visits the campus for the first time, walks away impressed by both the buildings and the natural beauty of the setting. Ultimately though, it is the programme that is operated, the staff who facilitate it and the outcomes that each boy achieves that are the most extraordinary.
The group of students who will arrive on the first day of school in 2022, will be with us for a full term of living, learning, stretching, growing, challenging, engaging, mastering, relationship building and immersion in the natural world. The Association for Experiential Education suggest that experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis. These experiences are structured to require the learner to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results. The term-long programme with its focus on academic learning, outdoor learning and social-emotional learning is unique. The carefully curated areas of focus and associated learning activities are designed to help each young man embark on a journey of profound learning and self-discovery.
The current cohort of students have stepped into the challenges that the FSP has presented them in an impressive manner. Each boy has been stretched by elements of the experience and they have all had to draw upon their personal reserves of grit and resilience, as well as those of their peers. There have been many examples of boys going above and beyond to help others and contribute to the broader Field Studies community in a positive manner. Engaging in an intensive residential programme after such a significant time spent in lock down in term 3 and 4 undoubtably brought an additional level of challenge for this cohort. The FSP community values of being safe; being respectful; being productive; and displaying unconditional positive regard to others, provide a framework that the staff and the boys can use to navigate the bumps in the road as they arise. The penultimate day of the FSP saw the boys engaged in the team focussed Woollamia Olympics, the personal challenge of the final cross-country run, and then an afternoon of reflection as the students navigated a values journey exercise. The day was rounded out with a campfire cook out and debrief with their pastoral group leaders. As per our tradition, the last day of the FSP sees the boys reflecting in Chapel about their experience away and what they will take with them from the journey. They then go on to ring the camp bell that signifies the end of this chapter and the beginning of the next. The boys achieve great things during their four weeks on the Field Studies Programme and I am excited to consider how much future students will take from the extended experience going forward from Term 1 2022.
Tim Knowles | Head of the Field Studies Centre (FSC)